Eric Murray " Replace the Kremmling hospital with a phone booth and a helicopter pad?
“Instead of building a new hospital, they should just build a phone booth and a helicopter pad,” the guy with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth said deliberately within earshot of me as I was walking into the restaurant for lunch.
I wondered why someone could say something like that, insinuating that all the hospital does is make a phone call and helicopter trauma patients to Denver hospitals.
Doesn’t he know that trauma teams are available at the hospital 24/7 to analyze situations and make critical life and death decisions? And what about all the services the hospital offers besides emergency care such as rehabilitation, radiology, laboratory, family practice and other services?
During my lunch I realized he had a good point. Helicopters are often seen taking off from the hospital after a trauma. People don’t see and perhaps don’t fully understand what happens between the time of patient arrival and helicopter departure.
So let me fill in the first objective of emergency trauma teams behind ER doors: stabilization.
When a trauma patient is wheeled into the emergency department at Kremmling Memorial Hospital the emergency physician on duty and the nurses are faced with a very important decision: whether stabilization and transportation are in the best interest of the health and welfare of the patient or if the required resources are available to treat the patient safely, right here and now.
When the seconds and minutes could mean the difference between life and death, trauma teams are on heightened awareness and they spring to action with readily available resources, equipment and knowledge.
Radiologic technologists can wheel the patient 20 feet from ER to the CT scanner and conduct various scans to further evaluate. Laboratory scientists can analyze the blood, further helping the physician in the decision process.
If any piece of that equation is less than ideal the physician on duty will likely call for the flight to a major medical center with recourses such as 24 hour surgeons, anesthesiologists and multimillion dollar equipment.
It’s also important to note that Flight For Life is reserved for the most critical conditions. Otherwise, ground transportation is utilized, especially during inclement weather.
Specific level designations, determined and monitored by state of Colorado, Department of Public Health and Environment, are established for medical facilities. Kremmling Memorial Hospital is a Level IV Trauma Center. Essentially this means it has the ability to provide stabilization and treatment of severely injured patients, specifically in remote areas where no alternative care is immediately available.
The next level, (III), has more resources and ability to treat more life-threatening injuries. Level II, accordingly, provides even more comprehensive trauma care including more specialty surgeons available. Level I Trauma Centers top the level of care including the most resources, equipment, programs, surgeons and specialists.
Kremmling Memorial Hospital isn’t the only Level IV Trauma Center in the region. They are also in other remote communities such as Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs and The Memorial Hospital in Craig and Estes Park Medical Center. Granby Medical Center is also a Level IV Trauma Center and Seven-Mile Medical Clinic in Winter Park is a Level V Trauma Center. St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center in Frisco is the closest higher level facility with a Level III Trauma Center designation. For Level I Trauma care, several Denver hospitals are the closest.
Living in the Colorado mountains has many advantages to city life. Although the highest level of emergency care is found in cities, I will still take this lifestyle and be grateful that this community has a level of care capable of saving my life in an emergency.
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